Chapada and The Pantanal
Seven years ago, on our very first overseas adventure together, we met two loca Belgian sisters with whom we spent a very fun week with in Cambodia. We only spent a few days together, but they proved to be such good value that we have remained friends since, lucky for us.
Flashback to 2006, fast times in Cambodia! Sophie, Leen, Hayley, Mein
Leen, the eldest of the two, has become an impassioned environmental warrior/tour guide in Brazil’s Pantanal alongside her Brazillian husband André and the kids (check out their site here: www.pantanaljaguarsafaris.com). Knowing that Brazil (and more specifically the Pantanal) does a bang-up job in the wildlife department – this was a great opportunity to get amongst whilst catching up with our long lost pal Leen.
We flew from Rio to Cuiabá – gateway to the Northern Pantanal and also Brazil’s hottest city. We are catching the very end of the wet season so are unsurprised when we arrive in the thick of a turbulent thunderstorm. Leen and her family live an hour away in the slightly cooler Chapada dos Guimarães, right amongst a National Park in the Brazillian savannah.
We had signed onto an 18km stroll guided by André in the National Park the morning after our arrival, so Leen ushers us to our Pousada and instructs us to get an early night dubious of whether we will come back in one piece - ‘it’s a bitch of a walk, but very rewarding’. Perfecto.
So extreme we climbed without a harness
We needn’t have worried too much – the really tough part was the afternoon heat and the light bush-whacking we decided to do for a more interesting route home. But, as promised – we were rewarded with spectacular views atop the plateau overlooking canyons, grasslands and Cuiabá city.
We climbed to the top of that there plateau
Up the top of the plateau
Bird-watching (sorry cant't see them in this shot)
We stumbled across this snakey in the bushes, squealed like little girls, and ran away. HPL mustered up the courage to go back to take a snap
The following day we came back to the park, this time with Leen to do some waterfall-hopping in the sunshine.
We were eager to get down to the Pantanal wetlands, which was pretty much at it’s watery-peak making for stunning scenery but a lesser likelihood of seeing the big-name animals like Jaguars and Pumas (because they don’t have to venture too far for a drink). The Pantanal is massive – think the size of the UK and offers a very rich array of wildlife which thrive on the back of the very distinct wet and dry seasons and an abundance of food (each other) to eat.
Fortuitously, we were able to grab Leen for three days to be our formidable guide for what was to be an incredible adventure.
Ready for a photo dump?
The world's largest rodent
Plenty of paranas around - apparently great for soup!
Early morning kayak
Hawk catching parana for brekkie
This is a Pygmie Owl - very cute. Should mention we have become avid bird-watchers
Watching the Pantanal coming to life
Meow. A cat was here, but didn't spot em in the flesh
A moving-picture of our adventures: